10 Best Tea Ceremony Experiences in Tokyo (Plus Other Ways to Enjoy Japanese Tea)

By Avah Atherton
Updated: February 26, 2024

Tea ceremonies in Japan, known as chanoyu or sado, are a centuries-old tradition based on the principles of Zen Buddhism, and the practice of tea drinking originated in China and made its way to Japan in the 9th century. It emphasizes simplicity, respect, and an appreciation of nature. 

The father of modern tea ceremony styles in Japan is Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591). He transformed the tea ceremony from a simple social gathering into a refined and spiritual ritual. Rikyu's tea ceremony uses the principles of wabi-cha: simplicity, austerity, and respect for nature. He believed the tea ceremony should be a simple and informal affair enjoyed by people of all social classes. 

Matcha green tea

Today, the tea ceremony continues to hold immense importance in Japanese culture, both as a traditional ritual that’s steeped in history and as a unique experience for tourists who flock to Japan. 

There are many different ways to enjoy tea in Japan, especially in Tokyo, where tea ceremony experiences, modern tea houses, afternoon tea, and tea shops flourish.

Let’s get to know Japanese tea ceremonies a little better, shall we?

Japanese tea ceremonies: What to expect?


The Japanese tea ceremony is a time for contemplation and relaxation and is meant to be a sensory experience. The host will carefully prepare the tea, using only the finest ingredients and utensils, and then the guests will be invited to drink the tea and enjoy the simple beauty of the setting. Along the way, the host will likely explain the steps of the ritual, but here are some things you may not know. 

You may be expected to remove your shoes, so remember to bring or wear clean socks. Seating takes place directly on the tatami mat with legs bent beneath you. This may become uncomfortable for those who are new to this style of sitting, so we’d recommend wearing loose pants to assume a more comfortable position. Some places may have low chairs for their guests to use. 

Take the time to appreciate the beauty of the room and the teacup you've been served in. It’s all part of the overall experience. 

Tea ceremony in Japan is an intimate ritual that demonstrates key elements of Japanese culture and social values. It is a chance to experience a philosophy that carries historical and cultural importance into the present day. 

Choose from any of the below activities and allow yourself to fully experience the cultural immersion that is sado (tea ceremony).

Is it your first tea ceremony in Japan? See our full guide.

Top tea ceremony experiences in Tokyo


Here are the best Japanese tea houses and tea ceremony experiences in Tokyo to enjoy tranquillity, artistry, and timeless tradition.

  1. Tea ceremony and Zen Buddhism in Tokyo
  2. Family-friendly tea ceremony in Ginza, Tokyo
  3. Tokyo tea ceremony in a traditional district
  4. Tokyo tea ceremony with kimono
  5. Tokyo tea ceremony for beginners
  6. Tokyo Japanese tea ceremony with photoshoot
  7. Tokyo Japanese tea ceremony with souvenir
  8. Private Japanese tea ceremony in Tokyo
  9. Tokyo Japanese tea ceremony with sushi (and sake!)
  10. Personalized Japanese tea ceremonies in Tokyo

1. Tokyo tea ceremony and Zen Buddhism


Zen Buddhism teaches the appreciation of nature, the cultivation of the mind, and our place in the world. Japanese tea ceremony pairs perfectly with these ideals; in this tea ceremony with Zen Buddhism experience, you can learn how to incorporate the two practices. Along with learning how to prepare and serve the tea, your host and certified tea master will explain the significance of the art in the tea room and the tea utensils.

2. Family-friendly tea ceremony in Ginza, Tokyo


Bring the kids along with you to this family-friendly tea ceremony experience. Learn the importance of the tea ceremony in Japanese culture and then practice the art of making tea with the helpful direction of your host. 

The principles of tea ceremony can be beneficial for children, emphasizing an appreciation for the environment, thoughtfulness in their movements, and consideration for others. Located in Ginza, this experience provides a tranquil respite from the upscale modern surroundings without ever leaving the city. 

3. Tokyo tea ceremony in a traditional district


Yanaka is a quiet traditional district in Tokyo that still embodies the charm of traditional Japanese life. The buildings, lanes, shops, and atmosphere is a calming contrast to much of Tokyo, and a tea ceremony here is amplified by the serene atmosphere of the environment. At this tea ceremony class, you will learn to make wagashi to enjoy with your choice of two types of tea. Even better, your tea will be served in tea bowls that are over 100 years old. 

4. Tokyo tea ceremony with kimono

Set in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward, there’s a traditional Japanese tea house in Kouyama Garden, hosted by Rika, an expert with over 20 years of experience in Japanese tea ceremonies. After the tea ceremony itself, where you’ll learn to make fresh matcha while enjoying Japanese confectionery, you’ll have time to take in the beauty of Kouyama garden, known for its seasonal foliage in spring and fall. And that’s not all — for an experience that will have you looking as cultured as you feel, there’s also a Tokyo tea ceremony with kimono experience add-on available.

Pro tip: If you do add the kimono experience to your tea ceremony, make sure you arrive about 15 minutes before your allotted time to allow for choosing and changing into your kimono.

5. Tokyo tea ceremony experience for beginners


Under the kind tutelage of your host, this beginner tea ceremony class will teach you about the tea ceremony, how to prepare and serve the tea, and how to make wagashi to accompany the cups of frothy matcha. Traditional or Western-styled seating is available, making the experience even more pleasant. Sip your tea while gazing out at beautiful surroundings in the heart of Shinjuku.

6. Tokyo Japanese tea ceremony with photoshoot


Can you imagine experiencing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and not getting any photos? Neither can we. With our Japanese tea ceremony and sweets experience at Tokyo’s Koboji temple, you can enjoy the history and ritual of making matcha, indulge in a few delicate sweets, and also have pictures taken in a professional photo shoot! 

Not only that, but you could also pair your tea ceremony with the art of Japanese flower arrangement — known as ikebana — if you like the sound of embracing another of Japan’s traditions while you’re here.

7. Tokyo Japanese tea ceremony with souvenir


Although you’ll be leaving any Japanese tea ceremony with the gift of special memories and insider knowledge about Japan’s long history of matcha, it’s also nice to leave with a physical reminder of such an unforgettable experience. That’s exactly what you’ll get with our tea ceremony, matcha, and wagashi-making experience in Tokyo, as you’ll be given an English-language textbook for brushing up on anything you learn during the session and a cotton hand towel, known as a tenugui in Japanese.

8. Private Japanese tea ceremony in Tokyo


For an experience that feels more intimate, you may prefer a private Japanese tea ceremony in Tokyo, and you’re in luck — we can recommend two!

Learn the ways of authentic Japanese tea ceremonies and the gentle flavors of Japan’s wagashi in a private Tokyo tea ceremony and wagashi experience with Sohki, or join Keiko, a Certified Instructor and Master from the Omotesenke Japanese Tea Ceremony School, who will lead you through the lessons of preparing fresh matcha while looking out onto a tranquil Japanese garden in a private tea ceremony and matcha-making session. This experience can also be packaged with the chance to wear a kimono, so you’ll fit right in with the elegance of a true Japanese tea ceremony master.

9. Tokyo Japanese tea ceremony with sushi (and sake!)


Authentic matcha and wagashi are undeniably must-try parts of coming to Japan, but we can’t say that you’ll leave feeling especially full. So, if you’d like your tea ceremony with a side of lunch, we’d recommend this sushi and tea ceremony option. Before learning how to master the art of matcha tea, you’ll be served a high-quality sushi lunch by a professional chef with over 35 years of culinary experience. Afterwards, Mrs Nagai — an expert in her own right — will teach you the ways of matcha, allowing you to savor this traditional tea alongside a selection of Japanese sweets.

Pro tip: This experience can also include a “sake-lovers package,” meaning you’ll also get to sip on an array of premium Japanese sake. Who could say no?

10. Personalized Japanese tea ceremony in Tokyo


With our VIP Gourmet Concierge service, craft a personalized Japanese tea ceremony in Tokyo that suits your needs and your schedule. Just let us know what you’re looking for — whether it’s a vegetarian or vegan tea ceremony, a tea ceremony with real chairs, a tea ceremony with a view, or anything in-between — and we’ll get our experts on the case.

Other ways to enjoy traditional Japanese tea in Tokyo

Looking for other ways to enjoy Japanese tea when in Tokyo? Check out these related experiences.

Wagashi-making and tasting with matcha tea


A key component of the tea ceremony experience is the wagashi used to help contrast the bitterness of the green tea. Wagashi consists of a thin layer of edible ice flour dough artistically arranged over a sweetened red or white bean paste. The simplicity of the ingredients is accentuated by the beautiful designs that can be made from hand-molding techniques and seasonal motifs. 

In this wagashi class, you will create two types of wagashi and two types of dango (boiled rice flour balls coated in syrup or paste) before having them with a complimentary cup of green tea.

Intermediate wagashi-making class


Learn from the owner of a 400-year-old sweet shop in this intermediate wagashi-making class. Here, you can experiment with different techniques and use a variety of tools and ingredients to mold your wagashi into a piece of stunning artwork. Have your wagashi and eat it too while sipping on a cup of Japanese tea to conclude the class. 

Japanese Tea Farm Tour in Shizuoka

Okay, you caught us… Shizuoka isn’t in Tokyo, but it is close enough that you could visit on a day trip, and we have an award-winning Japanese tea farm tour in Shizuoka that we just couldn’t let you miss out on. 

In under an hour on the bullet train from Tokyo, or around 3 hours and 15 minutes on the highway bus, you could be arriving in Shizuoka. There, you’ll sample local Japanese teas and know how to identify the different types of tea, learn how Japanese tea is processed, roast your own Japanese tea — and take it home as a souvenir! — make your own traditional Japanese sweets, and even choose your favorite matcha bowl at Osada Tea House. 

Fun fact: Shizuoka is the largest tea-producing region in Japan, accounting for over 40% of Japan’s tea production! Just in case you need to convince a friend why this experience is so worth the detour from Tokyo…

If all this tea talk has you feeling thirsty for more, check out our list of tea ceremony experiences in Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital. 

Tea ceremony experiences in Tokyo: FAQs

What is the history of Japanese tea ceremonies?

Originally, Japanese tea ceremonies began as a religious practice during the Kamakura period (1192-1333), when the caffeine present in matcha helped the Buddhist monks to stay away throughout long meditation sessions. After a while, wealthy patrons also began to enjoy the pleasure of tea ceremonies, still not accessible due to the expensive nature of matcha — at this time it was considered a luxury good and would not have been available to less affluent citizens. 

Woman performing Japanese tea ceremony

However, thanks to Sen no Rikyu’s influence and mastery of tea between 1522 and 1591 — before he was ordered to take his own life by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Japan’s leading daimyo (feudal lord) at the time — Japan’s tea ceremonies changed forever. 

What was once a quick caffeine boost for monks or a social occasion for wealthy circles became a carefully considered, elegant, and almost spiritual affair. Embracing the philosophy of wabi-cha, coming from the word for “tea” (cha) and the concept of “wabi-sabi” — meaning the appreciation and acceptance of the imperfections and transience of life — Rikyu’s tea ceremonies focused on simplicity and respect for nature.

This shift in values meant that Japanese tea ceremonies became more accessible to people of all classes, able to enjoy the simple pleasures of a tea ceremony done well and enjoyed to its fullest. 

What is the purpose of a Japanese tea ceremony now?

These days, the Japanese tea ceremony has retained the simple — yet extremely considered — values of Rikyu’s teachings, bringing hosts and guests together with a peaceful, intimate experience. In these, a well-versed host often leads the Japanese tea ceremony, mixing and pouring the matcha as it should be served, usually alongside a series of traditional Japanese snacks, such as wagashi.

How long is a tea ceremony in Japan?

Japanese tea ceremonies vary in length in the modern day, but a ‘proper’ tea ceremony in Japan can take up to 3 to 4 hours. This normally includes a meal and two servings of tea, usucha (thin tea) and koicha (thick tea).

However, tourists don’t always have three hours to spare in their day, and many Japanese tea ceremonies can be much shorter. Our tea ceremony experience in Asakusa only lasts about an hour — more than enough time for you to learn about tea ceremonies in Japan, witness a demonstration, make your own matcha, and enjoy drinking it with traditional sweets.


How should a guest behave at a tea ceremony in Japan?

When you enter, you should remove your shoes (make sure you have clean socks!) and bow towards the host — bonus points if you also bow towards the altar as a sign of respect. You will be required to sit on the tatami mats with your legs bent under you and your back as straight as possible, known as the seiza posture of sitting.

Depending on the formality of your tea ceremony setting, you may also be expected to wear traditional Japanese clothing, such as a kimono, or a smart suit and tie. 

This will depend highly on your chosen tea ceremony, as we also offer a traditional tea ceremony and wagashi-making experience that doesn’t require formal clothing or even for you to take your shoes off! 

Where is the best place to have a tea ceremony in Japan?

Even in an article dedicated to Tokyo tea ceremonies, we have to admit… Kyoto is still the capital of Japanese tea ceremonies. As the previous capital of Japan, it holds a high concentration of Buddhist temples, where the art of tea ceremony was first adopted, and is also the home of Japan’s first-grade matcha production, coming from the southern city of Uji. Having said that, Tokyo is still full of unique and traditional tea ceremony experiences, so don’t miss out while you’re here.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Avah Atherton
Avah, a proud Trinidadian, has a meat mouth, a sweet tooth, and a mission to find good food and great experiences. Based in Tokyo, she enjoys long walks (especially if they lead to somewhere delicious), reading, live performances, and art exhibitions.
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